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29 responses to “Making Mirto, a Sardinian Liqueur”

  1. Joshua

    I went to my prom with the Sardinian foreign exchange student.

  2. Casey@Good. Food. Stories.

    Is it possible to ship mirto across state lines? Or just save some for next October’s BlogHer? As a fellow boozehound, I feel it’s my necessity to taste this.

  3. kirsten

    I’m in love with a Sardinian wine (a vermentino) so I leap at the chance of trying anything Sardinian. Thanks for posting! Now to find some myrtle bushes…

  4. Yan

    This summer I also had the pleasure to discover mirto in both Sardinia and also the French version in Corsica. It is an incredible after dinner drink.

    The agriturismos tend to make their own homemade versions which are thicker and much more flavorful than what you can get at the stores (they probably use more berries). One agriturismo even offered free lodging if you help with the berry gathering.

    The myrtle bushes are pretty common in the countryside and the leaves really do add a very unique flavor to the meat dishes.

  5. Scott

    I thought I asked nicely……perhaps I should revisit my definition of “polite.” Effisio Harris’ book is lovely. I’m a huge fan of these super regional Italian cookbooks. I recently picked up a book about Sudtirol cuisine in the Dolomites. Another I can highly recommend is the soon to be released “My Calabria,” by Rosetta Costantino. Delightful!

  6. Matt Ames

    Hey Hank! I was totally stoked when I saw this post. I don’t think I’ve ever told you that when I was in elementary school, we had a 17 year old girl from Sardinia live with my family as a foreign exchange student. I had recently reconnected with her and am planning a trip to visit her family in 2 years.

    Anyway, I’d love to try your finished product sometime! Have fun!!

  7. homegrown countrygirl

    Hank, sorry to be a beggar but any chance you might do a post about how to use the leaves, too?

  8. brant


    Funny thing is everyone I have ever enjoyed mirto with always explained it as a sardinian wild blueberry liquor, which I guess is just flat out wrong. will have to do some re-educating….

    Use everclear without fear–just reduce the finished product with either a simple syrup or mix the honey with distilled water to bring the proof down to a safe level.

    My experience making limoncello and other variations (amaretto, sambuca, vermouth and gin) is that the higher proof liquors draw off more flavoring as well as helping to give the final finished product a respectable kick. If you start at 100 proof the finished product is closer to 50-60 proof versus closer to 80 proof using everclear.



  9. Scott

    Hey Brant, I think your misunderstanding is pretty common. Based on Italian language suffixes, -illo means diminutive. So, mirto would be a regular size blueberry while mirtillo would be a smaller blueberry. However, they are 2 totally different plants.

  10. Rene

    I have often wondered about the myrtle bushes here at work and what I could make with the berries. Looks like I will be doing some creative pruning tonight.

  11. Rene

    I started some mirto on Friday! I am wondering if you can make a simple syrup and mix with some macerated myrtle berries, then add your vodka, and store in jars for a month or so. Rather than adding sweetener later. I have a cranberry cordial recipe that works that way. Any thoughts on that?

  12. Dizzy B High

    Hi there i live in sardinia where we make mirto every january.

    Generally we use 100% proof alcohol avaliable here in the supermarkets as alcoool about 10 euro a bottle.

    we steep the berries for 1-2 months, we make the syrup simply by melting sugar into warm water, and mixing about essence 50/50 syrup or essence 60/40 syrup

    mix it when the syrup has cooled or you lose some of the alcohol.

    have not tried using honey will give it a go and see what its like, good luck with yours!

  13. Jon

    Interested in your article. I have a Myrtle bush which has flourished in Northern England. However this year we had a very serious frost and thought it had died. Fortunately, after a few months of apparent death, the shoots have started off again from ground level. I think we will have to wait a few more years to get berries again, which we have only had a couple of times. Still the flowers look great.

  14. Deena

    Thank you for all.the info. I absolutely enjoyed this. and I lived in La Maddalena for a few years and miss the taste of everything Sardinia, especially the Vino. Can’t wait for the day we can return.

  15. SokoMan

    I’ve been making my own alcohol drinks for some time now.
    Having had planted close to 30ft of Myrtle, I noticed beautiful berries come in. Google pointed out they’re edible, so why not do something with them. I ground up about 8 cups of berries, took the mash and added some purified water. Boiled for about 15 min on low heat, and finally strained twice to remove all the pulp, sticks, twigs, etc.. This gave me 400ml of “juice”. Added 100ml by volume of sugar, and 250ml of POLISH SPIRITUS, 96% Grain Alcohol, made by Polmos. Everclear wreaks of corn and ruins the flavor; unless you’re making a whiskey-ish drink I highly recommend the Polish grain alcohol. This gave me a finished product of around 30% alcohol. After a week of sitting it had a nice bite, distinctive flavor, and nice conversation piece. It’s much more potent than just soaking the berries, but that adds to the flavor. Good luck and enjoy.

  16. lm945

    I discovered Mirto a few years ago, when a friend and I were in Milan. We both instantly fell in love with it.

    Unfortunately, the Mirto available in the U.S. is not nearly as good. Possibly having to do with the required lower alcohol content.

  17. topcat

    I’m making my first batch of mirto and am curious: none of the recipes I’ve seen recommend pressing the juice from the berries upon straining. The berries look so plump and juicy this will be a great temptation. Is it because all the flavor has already been extracted and the skins and flesh won’t add anything or will make it cloudy (or perhaps will even detract)? Thanks for any information.

  18. Rob

    I discovered Sardinian cooking and Mirto working for the US Navy in LaMaddalena a few years ago. Love them both, but a word of caution concerning the Mirto: Over-indulge and you will suffer a hang-over like no other.

  19. Suz

    My italian friend tells me that it has to be kept in the freezer, which just thickens it rather than freezing solid – and it is drunk like that – extremely cold

  20. TheRabbit

    Hi Hank!

    Yet again, I google something and your name pops up! I typed in “hedge with blue berries and small leaves”, a photo appeared in google images which led me to your page. I was walking to meet my partner for lunch and noticed this hedge full of berries and figured by the looks of them, they must be edible. I was so happy to find your post on Mirto. I will be making a batch tonight. Thank you for all you do! Greetings from Santa Barbara!

    PS: This foraging didn’t lead to any encounters with law enforcement, as the fennel seeds did.

  21. Daninnaples

    I spent 6 years working for the Navy in La Maddalena located between Sardinia and Corsica – and came to love Mirto so much I startedmaking my own. To make the ‘white mirto’ we used the flowers and clean leaves. The first time most people taste it they don’t like it, often times I have heard ‘it tastes like robitussin.’ Myrtle grew wild on the islands so it as easy to get the berries. We always collected them in December. We also used the wood for smoking meats.

    Now that I am living in southern California I would love to find some myrtle plants or trees – I will keep my eye out for them. I still have one bottle of 100% left…

  22. Stevie

    Super impressed to see this in your archives. I used to live in Sardinia and the locals used every excuse to encourage us to acquire the taste for it. At the time I didn’t dig it. I’ll keep it in mind if I happen to see this elusive myrtle tree in the future.

  23. Sardinia

    Nice to read the recipe for the Sardinian Mirto. It’s advisable to keep the bottle in the freezer and serve it cold. Regards.

  24. Jeanette

    My understanding was that it is important to use over 80 proof alcohols for liqueurs like limoncello (and presumably mirto) because if you don’t, it will freeze solid. It probably does extract better flavors, too, I would think.

  25. Leonie

    We live in Puglia surrounded by myrtle bushes and I have annually made Mirto with great success using the supermarket alcohol. But a word of warning- I found if I mashed the berries the resulting flavour was very acrid and dried the mouth. That batch got thrown away!

  26. Leslie Vella

    Thanks for an interesting read Hank! I am from the island of Malta, south of Sicily. You convinced me to go find a fruiting myrtus communis and infuse the berries in alcohol and am waiting for the next ten weeks to pass! Can you please tell me a bit more about how to eventually sweeten it with honey? Many thanks, Leslie

  27. Brian Farley

    When I make sloe gin or clove whiskey liqueur in the UK, I leave the berries or spices in 40% ABV (alcohol by volume) spirit for about 2 months – until the desired colour or flavour is reached. Pour through a sieve, let settle, and decant the clear spirit from any sediment if necessary. Then I add 115gm white sugar per 700ml bottle of clear spirit. Leave horizontally in a warm place and it will dissolve in 1-2 days. If you like syrupy sweet liqueurs, just use more sugar. I found that honey made it a little cloudy. This should work for all liqueurs, including myrtle.

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